When Sheri Ladd took the plunge and closed down her restaurant for a massive redesign and expansion, she did so for the sake of her business. Getting an award that recognized her hard work and the reinvestment was an unexpected bonus.

Ladd owns the Harrison Street Café and was honored by the village and the Chamber of Commerce and Development last year with a PRIDE Award that attempts to pay tribute to property owners who go the extra mile. During a nine-day stretch, Ladd’s restaurant underwent a floor-to-ceiling rehabilitation and more than doubled its seating capacity. It was an expensive and labor intensive undertaking, which made the civic award all the more meaningful, said Ladd.

“Absolutely. I mean, you put a lot of hard work into it, it’s nice to be recognized,” Ladd said.

Now in its 14th year, chamber and village officials are fishing for nominees to receive the 2008 round of accolades in both business and residential improvements. The chamber’s Executive Director Laurie Kokenes said she received about a dozen nominations in both categories for last year’s contest and would be pleased to see a similar response.

But more importantly, she said, is that the award and the nomination process give community members a chance to foster goodwill.

“We’re all working toward improving Forest Park in general,” Kokenes said. “I feel like pointing it out gives them recognition for what they did and shows that someone appreciates it.”

Generally, the awards are given for improvements that are made to the exterior of a home or business, said Kokenes. Interior renovations can be considered, but the award attempts to recognize those measures that could have a ripple effect on the neighborhood.

“Obviously, if you’ve spent a lot of money you made a significant investment, but we also consider the aesthetics and what it was like before,” Kokenes said. “We probably don’t always know what they spent.”

There isn’t a cap on how many PRIDE Awards will be distributed each year, and there are typically multiple recipients in both categories. Winners receive a plaque at the chamber’s annual meeting, which this year will be held May 7 at McAdam Landscaping on Desplaines Avenue.

“Everyone has their own motivation for making improvements to their property,” Village Administrator Mike Sturino said. Whether for aesthetics or financial considerations, this award is a chance to “give thanks and give them public recognition,” he said.